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Grammy and Dove Award Winning Gospel Music Association Hall of Famer John Schlitt Delivers Heartfelt, Tender Vocals on Billy Smiley-Produced Single

John Schlitt and The Union of Sinners & Saints Unveil Reimagined Version of the Classic Christmas Song, 'The Birthday of a King'

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December 15, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 15, 2021) - Grammy and Dove Award-winning recording artist and Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame member John Schlitt reunites with The Union of Sinners & Saints to deliver a heartfelt, tender, reimagined version of the classic Christmas song, “The Birthday of a King.”
The new single was produced by five-time Grammy-nominated and 26-time Dove-nominated recording artist/producer/songwriter Billy Smiley and features the talents of The Union of Sinners and Saints, which is comprised from the two best-selling Christian Rock bands of all time, Petra and Whiteheart, with over 15 million albums sold, 25 #1 songs, 15 Grammy and 40 Dove awards and nominations between them.
The lyrics contrast the humble little village of Bethlehem with the glory and greatness of Jesus Christ, who was born there. The refrain focuses on the wonderful appearance of the host of angels, and how that was a fitting celebration for the birthday of a King.
Although penned as a hymn in the late 1800s by American composers William Harold Neidlinger and Francis Fischer Powers, the song gained widespread popularity when it was recorded by Judy Garland in 1941.
"When Billy Smiley found this song from the past, I was very intrigued,” says Schlitt, whose lead vocals inject a gentle rock n' roll vibe into the traditional hymn. “When I realized it was Judy Garland who was singing it, I was totally thrilled. It’s a beautiful song for a beautiful season."
"John's vocals are unbelievable on this classic rendition of a Christmas favorite," says Smiley. "We wanted to fit a classic into what we do as a group, and we had a great time doing this Christmas version! We hope people really connect with it."
Fans can stream the single on multiple platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Tidal, Amazon Music, Pandora and others, or purchase the song from iTunes, or Click here for a complete list of streaming and purchasing outlets, or click here to listen now.
John Schlitt, who has been called the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer in Christian music history, is no stranger to Christmas music. The iconic vocalist delivered a full-length Christmas project in 2014, appropriately titled, The Christmas Project.
Schlitt launches The Christmas Project with what is arguably the greatest Christmas song of all time, "The Hallelujah Chorus." While Handel's masterpiece has been interpreted by a multitude of musicians over the past 250 years, no one sings "hallelujah" like Schlitt. "The Hallelujah Chorus" transitions seamlessly into a guitar-driven, barn-burning version of "Do You Hear What I Hear." "Little Drummer Boy" gives Schlitt the freedom to explore his full range of vocal prowess, starting at a muted whisper before embracing his full-throttle, wailing rock roots while holding fast to the traditional melodies of the beloved carol.
Schlitt reins in his potent vocals for a gentle, reverent interpretation of "O Holy Night," then ratchets up the intensity on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," a rock-inflected fist-pumper that is guaranteed to get the listeners' blood flowing. The versatile vocalist shifts moods to one of pure fun with the funky Irish reel "Good Christian Men Rejoice," then slides comfortably into the mellow, bluesy "That Spirit of Christmas," made popular by the legendary Ray Charles.
Melancholy keys and strings embellish Schlitt's emotion-laden vocals on the traditionally arranged "We Three Kings." The gently rocking "What Christmas Needs to Be" leads into the project's closing tune, the reflective "What Child Is This." "What Child Is This" provides the perfect foil for Schlitt's signature vocal stylings, allowing him to channel his passionate delivery through a filter of awe at the enormity of this central event in history. The icing on the Christmas confection is an original tune, "What Christmas Needs to Be," which is destined to become a seasonal classic.
To listen to or purchase “The Birthday of a King," click here for a complete list of streaming and purchasing outlets, or click here to listen now.
To purchase The Christmas Project, visit
For more information on John Schlitt, his music, and touring, visit
For more information about The Union of Sinners & Saints, click here.
About John Schlitt's latest project, GO:
GO represents Schlitt’s first full-length solo album of original material in seven years, and the project has proven to be well worth the wait for fans of the man (now has called "the best rock singer in Christian music history.”
The ten-song collection of sanctified rock ‘n’ roll released digitally on December 23, 2019, with the physical CD following on February 28, 2020, just prior to the pandemic lockdown in the U.S.
GO confirmed industry opinions that Schlitt’s vocals have never been in better form.
The project met with immediate critical acclaim and was tapped as one of the Top 10 Albums of 2019 by Classic Christian Rock Magazine, which extols the project's sweet melodies, direct lyrics, and Schlitt’s seemingly ageless vocal prowess.
GO joined chart-toppers and fan favorites on CCR's 2019 "Best Of" list, including projects by Newsboys, Michael Sweet, David & the Giants, and Guardian's Jamie Rowe.
Schlitt also released a special edition limited vinyl version of GO from Girder Music on August 7, 2020, under the Limited Run Vinyl series.
With production and engineering by Dan Needham, John Lawry, and Mark Lee Townsend, combined with savvy songwriting collaborations with the likes of Needham, Lawry, Townsend, Jerry McPherson, Scott Bernard, Jeff King, Scott Faircloff, Ryan Horn, and Chuck Anderson, and A-list musicianship from some of Nashville's finest, GO is a tour de force of straight-up, spiritually astute rock 'n' roll.
It's the kind of album that sounds great the first time through, then gets better each time you listen to it.
The title track eases you into the groove, with a deceptive acoustic guitar and bongo line that builds in intensity, with the not-so-subtle message to get up and do something. "As Christians, we have been sitting around for too long," Schlitt declares. "We are blessed, but with blessings come responsibility. What is God calling you to do? Do it!"
If there was any question about the rock 'n' roll nature of the project, Schlitt answers emphatically on "Feel It," the first single. Thundering toms, driving guitars, and Schlitt's signature grit and gravel vocals undergird the song's clarion call to "have a little faith."
Schlitt struts confidently into classic arena rock territory on "Takin' It Higher," then pulls back on the piano-driven rock ballad, "Fighting the Fight." "Life is a fight," Schlitt muses. "Without Christ, you're wasting your time. With Christ, the battle is already won. You just have to go forward and do what God's put on your heart to do."
Fuzzy distortion and a techno vibe enhance "Just Let Go," a thumping, Beach Boys-esque rocker with a message of trusting God when you can't see the next step. The tune segues effortlessly into the loopy, cautionary prog-rocker, "Time Keeps Rollin.'" Then, Schlitt proves he can groove with best of them on the Motown-inspired "Where Would I Be," that will have you wondering if the California Raisins are singing background vocals. "'Where Would I Be' is just one of those songs I've always wanted to do," Schlitt grins. "The music style is fun and the title says it all."
"Find a Way," which finds Schlitt exploring the softer side of acoustic rock 'n' roll, is a song that would not feel out of place on a Crosby, Stills & Nash album. Ripped-from-the-headlines lyrics, thudding drums, tasty electric guitar licks, and passionate vocals underscore the in-your-face message of "Fake News."
If Stallone ever decides to do another Rocky movie, "Let's Go" could easily be the theme song. "Are you fighting for truth or illusion?" Schlitt wails. "I am a fighter on my way / There is no time to hesitate. / Let's go!"
Schlitt closes the project with a playful bonus track, "Not Dead Yet." The singer, whose career has spanned more than half a century, proves he can not only run with the big dogs, he can still compete with the young pups in an industry that is increasingly youth-centric.
Ultimately, GO is a declaration of movement. Sometimes that movement is a forward motion, and sometimes the movement takes a momentary pause as we wait for direction. Either way, GO is not an invitation to sit in our comfort zone and do nothing.
"We're either going forward or idling in expectation of God's direction," Schlitt says. "And when the time comes to go--then we GO!"
For more information about Schlitt and GO, visit
About John Schlitt:
For more than four decades, John Schlitt has enjoyed a stellar musical career as a solo artist, as the lead singer for Grammy Award-winning Christian band Petra, one of the most successful Christian rock bands of all time, and as the former lead singer for popular '70s mainstream rock band Head East. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Schlitt is currently a member of The Union of Sinners and Saints, a band he formed with former Whiteheart band member Billy Smiley in 2016, and he brings his lead vocalist talent to The Jay Sekulow Band, a seven-piece ensemble featuring Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice and host of his own radio and talk shows. In addition to Schlitt, other band members include John Elefante, John Lawry, Scott Kirkman, Marco Pangallo, Mark Lee Townsend, and Chris Cooke.
Schlitt has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame as the lead singer of Petra during the years when the band won 10 Dove Awards and four Grammy Awards.
He was named the best rock singer in Christian music history by (now, and according to the website, Schlitt "remains one of the most distinctive and impactful men to ever stand behind a microphone." Schlitt was also named Male Vocalist of the Year in's 2011 Readers' Poll in a category that included Chris Tomlin and Jeremy Camp.
The legendary vocalist's busy schedule in recent years has included appearances in media outlets including CCM Magazine; Cornerstone TV's flagship shows, Hope Today and Real Life;; 700 Club Interactive;; Faith Radio's The Meeting House, World Christian Broadcasting. Huckabee; 100 Huntley Street; Jay Sekulow Live; TBN's Praise the Lord and Music, Moments, and Memories TV programs; nationally syndicated radio show Bill Martinez Live!; Jesus Freak Hideout; Jubileecast; The Bottom Line; and many more, as well as extensive international touring and media coverage.
For more information on Schlitt, his music, and touring, visit
About The Union of Sinners & Saints:
Few artists have been more influential in defining the CCM brand than Petra and WhiteHeart, so fans rejoiced when John Schlitt, lead singer of Petra, and Billy Smiley, guitarist, singer, and founder of WhiteHeart, announced the formation of The Union of Sinners & Saints, which features members from these two bestselling Christian Rock bands of all time, with over 15 million albums sold, 25 #1 songs, 15 Grammy and 40 Dove awards and nominations between them.
For more information about The Union of Sinners & Saints, click here.


For more info on John Schlitt, visit the JFH Artists Database.


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